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Reprinted by Permission of BizBash Media

With a look at locations, parties, and the city itself, event producer Cara Kleinhaut checks out how the French do Fashion Week.

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Photo: Courtesy of Cara Kleinhaut

It’s Paris Fashion Week once again, the culmination of a solid month of fashion shows, presentations, dinners, parties, and thousands of #OOTD’s (that’s outfits of the day in blogger speak) in New York, London, Milan, and now finally in Paris. I’ve always wanted to check out what PFW was all about, but from my view as an event producer. Yes, yes, any excuse to go back to Paris. But while I’m here, let’s dive in! So who are the main players in the event business here? What are the locations? How are the shows and scene different than New York Fashion Week? Who gets invited and basically what makes Paris Fashion Week tick? Well, this is by no means an exhaustive report, though exhausted is the right word after traversing the Seine 100 times in a day to tour the venues, meet the creatives, and even stay out past bedtime to check out some parties.Let’s start with the locations. As Paris is basically one big big outdoor history museum, depending whose point of view you share, the venues and monuments themselves can be just as much as a draw as the collections. Spread throughout the center(ish) of Paris, the shows take place in a series of magnificent urban palaces, gardens, and interesting “Hôtel Pariculiers” including: Le Grand Palais, Le Palais de Tokyo, Palais Garnier, Palais des Beaux Arts, and Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild, to name a few. With soaring architecture from the 1800s as the overall set backdrop, it’s hard to not feel like somehow this is a more rarified experience.

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Le Grand Foyer at Palais Garnier The Palais Garnier’s Grand Foyer was the location of the Stella McCartney Spring/Summer 2015 collection on Monday, September 29.

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And this is where they call “backstage.” Nicest one I’ve seen!

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A gala in the Grand Foyer!

As one popular Parisian fashion blogger, Emilie of the Brunette put it: “In Paris, you could have shows in churches, private apartments, gardens, schools. There is possibility everywhere in Paris. but NYC shows are almost always in the same place” and not that interesting of spaces.

And a more exclusive experience it is. Though I have not checked under every tapis rouge (red carpet, that is), we just have not seen the branded presence we see at NYFW. The special viewing and recharge lounges like American Express’s SkyBox Lounge and Target’s Every Day Café just don’t exist. Instead, everyone flocks to the hot cafès in town, Instagrams their lunch—coffee and macarons—and then continues on to the next show. Beauty bars, product sampling, interactive brand experiences, or pop-ups as they once were known, all n’existe pas over here. It’s about nabbing your invite to the show, getting together in smaller groups for breakfasts and lunches, shooting great content for your blog (lots of posing at the Louvre this morning), and then, well, there are the dinners and the parties to go to at night. But you better have an invitation in hand!

There is a big difference in the parties too. Again, we didn’t see any sponsor integrations, even at a magazine-hosted party at the new hot spot in town, Faust, built under the Alexander III bridge. Since dinner is at 9 p.m., parties are late, dark, and discreet. Not exactly Instagram-ready moments! The guys in town to know have a blog called Ten Days in Paris. In their cheeky way, they give the list of all the parties of the week, the locations, and your chances by percentage of getting in if you’re not on the list. While their focus is primarily trying to find hot models, it’s a useful resource if you really want to party hop.

And of course there are the top luxury hotels. With sweeping city views, they serve as home base for the fashionista set, but also host exclusive and private soirees in their terrace view suites, such as Kanye and Kim’s shindig on Wednesday night on a private terrace at the new Peninsula Paris. Private dinners, daytime meetings, and also a show here and there, the hotels serve as command central for PFW out-of-town attendees. There is the classic Grande Dame Le Meurice (just as busy as ever, by the way) to the newest gleaming hotel, kind of the new command central of PFW, the Peninsula Paris.

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The Peninsula Paris A gleaming new masterpiece and popular fashion industry hang, the Peninsula Paris offers sweeping views—plus a glimpse of L’Oiseau Blanc restaurant—from its brand-new rooftop terrace suite, one of the very few in Paris.

 

Le Meurice A bed fit for a king and queen at Le Meurice.

Le Meurice
A bed fit for a king and queen at Le Meurice.

And of course there are the top luxury hotels. With sweeping city views, they serve as home base for the fashionista set, but also host exclusive and private soirees in their terrace view suites, such as Kanye and Kim’s shindig on Wednesday night on a private terrace at the new Peninsula Paris. Private dinners, daytime meetings, and also a show here and there, the hotels serve as command central for PFW out-of-town attendees. There is the classic Grande Dame Le Meurice (just as busy as ever, by the way) to the newest gleaming hotel, kind of the new command central of PFW, the Peninsula Paris.

But if a more urban art scene feels like home to you, something that reminded me a little of the Ace Hotels, is the Hotel Molitor. Once an exclusive private pool club then an abandoned street art rave wasteland, it is now totally refurbished into a contemporary haven fusing street art with popping colors and modern design, and the original pool as the central focus.

 

 

 

 

As we move deeper into PFW we’re set to visit some talented floral designer’s ateliers (a very pretty word for workshop), Instagram-ready decor being created by some of the newer event design talent, and, of course, there’s Bureau Betak, the king of the event designers here in Paris, working on some of the biggest shows, including Christian Dior, which always stuns with floral walls and elaborate sets. And for the daily moments, fave café’s, and my ridiculous attempt to look like a fashion blogger, you can hop over to everyone’s favorite addiction du jour, Instagram, and say hi @Caravents#CaraventsInParis!

Hotel Molitor Paris This is the Molitor's pool, which is the central feature, lit at night. There are other spaces available, including the rooftop, pool area, and a second pool next door, which can be drained! Other events have put subflooring over the pool for live concerts.

Hotel Molitor Paris
This is the Molitor’s pool, which is the central feature, lit at night. There are other spaces available, including the rooftop, pool area, and a second pool next door, which can be drained! Other events have put subflooring over the pool for live concerts.

Hotel Molitor Paris Street art, including pieces by famed Mr. Brainwash, are woven into the decor throughout the hotel.

Hotel Molitor Paris
Street art, including pieces by famed Mr. Brainwash, are woven into the decor throughout the hotel.

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Hotel Molitor Paris ​Not your typical meeting room—bright colors, modern furnishings, and authentic street art mural decor at the Molito

 

 Reprinted with Permission from BizBash Media

Guest Column: An Event Producer in Paris, Part II

The second part to Cara Kleinhaut’s adventures in the City of Light, exploring ateliers, Instagram feeds, and how Paris Fashion Week is different from its New York cousin.

Photo: Sarah Gardan

Photo: Sarah Gardan

Paris Fashion Week continued this week filled with shows and evenings full of private dinners and small gatherings. Not the big branded party scene we see in New York where Versus Versace threw a big bash this year and we have branded shows such as the Lexus Design Disrupted party/presentation for Gareth Pugh.What did stand out was the simplicity of most of the productions, where the focus is truly on the collections. A few productions did stand out however.And any conversation about event/experiential design and production here in Paris has to start with Bureau Betak. The brilliant creative force of Alexandre de Betak and his team create highly stylized, magical environments. Their busy week included shows such as Dior, Isabel Marant, Viktor & Rolf, and a list of others. Let’s start with the Dior show. Back in July, Dior’s show had jaw-dropping curved walls of solid orchids—an ethereal dream! This week’s show featured a glowing tech chic set with highly contrasting black walls and a circular white LED lit floor featuring multiple platforms for viewing. And yes it was so bright in the room you can see all the front-row fashionistas in their sunglasses.Kenzo featured multiple projections and Chanel, always known for its totally creative thematic presentations (remember the supermarket set from last season?), staging a faux protest in the “streets” of Paris.And now one of my favorite topics: flowers. Or truly, floral artistry. Here the workshops and warehouses are called ateliers. The French take their floral very seriously—the masters here are regarded in the same league as master chefs and couture designers. And it’s quite competitive too! I could spend a month visiting just floral designers here, but here are two that gave us an inside look.

iguuxxcpicavtbaz3po_q1b9mzfn67lufmkdfski6t4k14coc9ezxo8na-iuhm7oszzkdlxxi8htuzzxiq0f1aVenturing to the outskirts of Paris to the workshop of the talented Baptiste Pitou was well worth the journey. First, it was the most immaculate warehouse I have ever seen. Floral designer to Cartier, Piaget, and Sotheby’s, and with his wife as his partner, (I like that, of course) Baptiste has created dreamy installations for nearly 20 years. We even got a look at some hand-drawn sketches.k1wiv74j3mdpctopudfuz2rdmgmvmz-mzxys0pkbijg

No computer renderings needed, Baptiste showed us his gorgeous, hand-drawn images.

And as Baptiste is the fleuriste de la maison at the Mandarin Oriental Paris, his rotating creations grace the entry in a permanent steel structure he designed. When discussing Paris Fashion Week, he echoed what we have heard from a number of creatives, that floral was not a big part of shows this season, as they were for haute couture in the summer.

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Baptiste is one of the floral wall originators, and here’s a beautiful one he did for Piaget.

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Baptiste Pitou’s Cocktail Vegètal – They call this “Cocktail Vegètal.”

And now let’s discuss the lovely Jeffrey Leatham, a name perhaps a bit more well-known to us on the other side of the pond. As the Four Seasons Hotel George V’s artistic director for nearly 16 years, Jeffrey showcases his creations throughout the legendary property. Suspended floral delights and complete transformations to the public spaces of the historic hotel have earned him the soon to be title of Chevalier. That means he is being knighted by the country of France for his contributions to art and beauty! Yes, they knight people in France here for creating beauty. We all can appreciate that. So I suppose that would be Sir Leatham to the rest of us? Well, turns out he’s a down to earth and fun California boy at heart and I have some great news to those of us who have heard of him but never had the chance to work with him. Jeffrey is returning to Los Angeles and is in the process of launching his new U.S. shop. So come out and welcome him home! He is also celebrating the release of his fancy new book published by Rizzoli. While he was working on the new foyer installation, we got a chance to sit down at the gorgeous bar at George V and I got a sneak peek at this stunning book. If you’re a fellow coffee table book addict like myself, you are in for a visual treat!

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So now we’ve discussed the masters, who are the up-and-comers? We had such a delight walking into the atelier (or petit apartment as it is) of Amèlia and Paul, of the Nymphea Factory. Another (soon-to-be) husband-and-wife team, they create visual magic right out of their apartment (did I mention it was small?) where they hand-make paper and fabric decor, bake the desserts, and even make the food for their events. Working mostly on weddings at the moment, they bring their handcrafted paper floral, garlands, and ceiling treatments to couples all over France.

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But they are small and growing a business, which, here in France, is a whole other ballgame so to speak. What is most interesting is they are getting very well-known through their gorgeous, well-curated feed on Instagram. At 30,000 followers they get more inquiries than they can say yes to. A fantastic problem to have, but as a business owner I know firsthand that managing growth and not taking on more than you can handle well, is a tough balance we all have to figure out.

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And speaking of Instagram, right now more people are connecting and getting noticed because of their feeds on Instagram. It is the number one outlet for creatives to get their work noticed right now. And the truly talented are using this to grow their fans and their worth. I could discuss this for days so drop me a note if you want to discuss more!

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The Nymphea Factory make paper and fabric decor out of their apartment, including this adorable paper flower and light installation.

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Homemade desserts have a new meaning: Amèlie and Paul even make their own macarons. Watch out Pierre Hermé and Ladurée!

My time in Paris observing Paris Fashion Week through my event producer’s lens has been truly fascinating. The most striking difference between New York Fashion Week and its Paris cousin was the quieter presence of the French shows and virtually no branding. To my “everything has a sponsor integration” perspective, this was almost shocking. Pauline, a prominent fashion blogger who is behind Pauline Fashion Blog, says, “I feel PFW and NYFW are very different. The concept is the same, the people attending the shows are mostly the same (fashion editors, buyers, and international bloggers), but the shows and atmosphere are completely different. First, obviously, Paris is more about celebrating creation as an art and Fashion Week as an inspiration for the season to come. Whereas in New York, it’s more about celebrating the industry of fashion to sell clothes. On the other hand, the atmosphere is more fun in New York and sometimes very ‘snob’ in Paris. People act differently. Maybe because NYFW is always the first one, whereas Paris is the last one after New York, London, and Milan. People must be exhausted.”

For me Paris also has the striking, gorgeous venues—actual palaces and historical hotels that are just as big a part as the shows themselves. And it’s just impossible to not be taken away by the fact that oh by the way we just happen to have the gorgeous city of Paris and that sparkling tower itself as our backdrop to it all. Not a bad way to spend a week. And we didn’t even discuss the new café and dessert scene here. But that’s what Instagram is for! Thanks for joining me for #CaraventsInParis!

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The new Makeup Genius app by L’Oreal offers you an instant makeover using real products and real inspiration. The app uses one-of-a-kind technology that recognizes your facial characteristics to ensure a seamless virtual makeup application experience.

For the launch of this revolutionary application we placed iPads stations for guests to try the app firsthand! App users could browse through a library of looks from expert makeup designers and have fun trying on new makeup themselves. Once attendees locked in the look they loved, they could save it and share with your friends via your social networks and even test the L’Oreal products right there.

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Venue: The Glass Houses  Photos: Heather Sten and Caravents  Catering: Mary Giuliani Catering  

Season Premier Ray Donovan 
Nobu Malibu

‘Time Warner Cable and Showtime pulled out all the stops at Wednesday’s spirited fete for the season two premiere of the gritty drama “Ray Donovan,” which nabbed an Emmy nomination in the best supporting actor category for Jon Voight, who plays Mickey Donovan, Liev Schreiber’s on-screen father sprung from prison and wreaking havoc on Ray’s personal life. ”   Variety

Caravents produced and designed the Fete ..(Comment from Cara)

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Venue: Nobu Malibu| Photos: Line 8 Photography and Paige Jones

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